They say that necessity is the mother of innovation, a driver to push the bounds of the known. That’s exactly how this recipe was born; it is the essence of cooking by feel. Another Friday night, closing the chapter on a week of work, a dire lack of food in the fridge. Morale depleted, yearning for the lazy weekend mornings that lay just out of reach. Now confronted with what feels like a nearly insurmountable task, making an acceptable dinner. Open the fridge once, twice, three times yet nothing is appealing and no matter how many times I grumpily trudge back to the fridge, no new food is appearing inside. Neurons start firing, ingredients, I peer at the fruit and vegetable corner, leeks, in the fridge, a nice tub of mascarpone. An idea comes together, buttery & creamy leeks, but how would they be served? Something quick, I’m hungry, quinoa is quick, perfect!
Forty-five minutes later, my partner and I are ready to sit down and indulge in our guilty pleasure (dinner on the couch in front of the TV) and as we dig into our dinner we are hit – this is good, far better than expectations. So, this recipe was born, it has been refined a bit for the blog, but has remained largely the same. It is creamy and mildly sweet from the leeks topped with delicious roasted brussels sprouts for their charred flavor and finished with pepitas on top for some crunch. All of this is rounded out by just a touch of acid and heat from chili flakes and let me tell you, it is delicious.
This recipe comes together relatively quickly, which I hope you garnered from its origin story. It is a wonderful fall recipe which uses in season vegetables to create a dish that hopefully warms your heart & home. I hope you enjoy!
Active time: 25 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 ½ lbs brussels sprouts, halved or quartered depending on size
- 1 yellow onion, cut into thick semi-circles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 leeks
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 large sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
- ⅔ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp white wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- Pepitas, to top
- Salt & freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions and set aside when complete. Also, begin to soak the cashews for a bit: add the cashews into a blender and pour 200g of boiling water over them (about ¾ cups), set aside.
- Line two baking sheets and add the onion, brussells sprouts, olive oil and a generous few pinches of salt. Toss and cook for 20-23 minutes, tossing once at the 11 minute mark. They should be nicely charred, set aside when complete.
- Cut the tough green ends and the roots off the leaks. Cut them in half lengthwise and then cut them into semi circle slices about 1 cm thick. Toss them all in a colander and rinse them thoroughly.
- Add the butter to a large non-stick pan on medium heat. Add in the leeks, thyme and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté until soft and fragrant about 7-9 minutes.
- While the leaks cook, complete the sauce. To the blender add the mascarpone, nutritional yeast, white wine vinegar, chili flakes, lots of freshly cracked black pepper and a ½ tsp salt. Once the leaks are done, scoop about half of them into the blender and process on high until smooth for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the sauce back to the pan with the leeks and add in the cooked quinoa. Taste and adjust for salt levels.
- Serve a bed of the creamy leek quinoa and top it with the roasted vegetables, finish the dish off with a sprinkle of peptias and enjoy!